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The International Zip Line between Spain and Portugal

(Photo: Limite Zero)

The Spanish town of Sanlúcar de Guadiana and the Portuguese town of Alcoutim are separated by the Guadiana River. You can take a boat across the border. But if you want to move really quickly, then zip line is the way to go.

David Jarman’s Limite Zero is the private company responsible for this fun project. For 15 euros, you can travel at 45 miles per hour down the 0.44-mile long zip line at a 12.47% slope. You can then take a ferry back, which is helpful, because you’d surely want to do it again and again.

The ride lasts about a minute. But since you travel across a time zone boundary, you could also say that it takes one hour and one minute.

(Video Link)

Scientifically Accurate Anatomical Diagrams of Animals

These anatomical diagrams of animals circulating the internet are helpful, but I do wish that they went into a bit more detail. A rabbit's poof loof, like a human's, has four distinct swoophs.

Ideally, give your pet rabbits a rough surface to walk on, like a carpet. Slick floors don't give traction for their thumping puffers and fuzz scrubbers.

My Little Pony F-22 Fighter Plane

On My Little Pony: Friendships Is Magic, there is a military organization called the Wonderbolts. They are presented as the air force of Equestria. But their work consists largely of aerial demonstrations, so perhaps they should be be compared to the US Navy's Blue Angels or the US Air Force's Thunderbirds.

Robert, a brony and modelmaker, built this model of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, an advanced fighter plane operated by the US Air Force. He decorated it with the colors and symbols of Equestria's elite flyers. Now Celestia's government can extend air supremacy over any territory near the borders of her dominion.

(Image: Hasbro Studios)

Animated Movie Posters

Redditor RedditAuthority created two galleries of 21 movie posters. S/he turned the scenes depicted on these posters into animated .gifs. These include recent releases, such as Looper, old movies, such as Psycho, and emerging classics like Back to the Future.

-via Fubiz

Father-Son Bonding

Chris at Lunarbaboon couldn’t let Star Wars Day go by without posting his tribute to the franchise. When Lucas finally figured out what he was going to do with the story, it set a standard for passing the tale along from generation to generation. And provided a way for geeky dads to bond with their geeky children.  

New Mickey Mouse Animated Short - Fire Escape

(Video Link)

The creative animators at DisneyShorts have done a really good job of bringing Mickey Mouse back for fans young and old, and trying to get us all to forget about that awful looking called Mickey’s Clubhouse, which features some downright terrible CGI.

Since the release of the Mickey short Runaway Brain in 1995 the DisneyShorts division has succeeded in getting fans of that most famous mouse back on board, and Get A Horse! (2013) began a new wave of Mickey shorts with a snazzy new look.

Their latest short is called Fire Escape, and it continues the new old school series while retaining a lot of the comedic charm people have come to expect from Disney animated shorts.

-Via Kotaku

R.I.P., Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., an American actor whose work spanned more than 6 decades, died yesterday at the age of 95. Many readers may remember him for his work on the action television shows 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964) and The F.B.I. (1965-1974).

But geeks may remember him best as the voice of Alfred Pennyworth, Batman's guardian and friend, on Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1998). Later, he played the villain William Edgars on Babylon 5 (1994-1998).

(Video Link)

Here he is in a classic scene from the Babylon 5 episode "The Exercise of Vital Powers."

Zimbalist played many roles during his life. But his most important were that of husband and father, for which he will be greatly missed:

"We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., today at his Solvang ranch," the actor's daughter Stephanie Zimbalist and son Efrem Zimbalist III said in a statement. "He actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf and visiting with close friends."

-via Glenn Reynolds | Images: Warner Bros., TNT

Using a Foreign Language Affects Your Ethical Reasoning

(Photo: Elliott Brown)

You're standing on a footbridge overlooking a train track. A train is coming down that track. It is about to hit and kill five people.

A very heavy man is also on the bridge. If you push him off the bridge, his body will stop the train, but it will also kill him.

Would you push him?

How you answer this ethical dilemma may be affected by the language in which you hear it. Researchers at the University of Chicago and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona found that when people encountered this dilemma in a foriegn language, they were more likely to take the utilitarian option: pushing the man off the footbridge. Science 2.0 reports:

The researchers collected data from people in the U.S., Spain, Korea, France and Israel. Across all populations, more participants selected the utilitarian choice — to save five by killing one — when the dilemmas were presented in the foreign language than when they did the problem in their native tongue.

Even with randomizing the participants' language groups, "those using a foreign language were twice as likely to respond with the utilitarian approach that is more in the service of the common good of saving more people," said lead author Albert Costa from the Center of Brain and Cognition, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Costa is currently a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.

-via Marilyn Terrell

Would you push him?

You Can See the Eyes of This Transparent Spider Move inside Its Skull

(Video Link)

YouTube user Wayne Maddison identifies this cutie as a yellow amycine jumping spider from Ecuador. I am unable to independently verify that claim, but never mind: look at its eyes! You can see right through its skull at the eyes movin' around!

-via Super Punch

The Amazing Homes Built By Animals And Insects

Spinifex termite mound- Northern Territory, Australia

Vogelkop gardener bowerbird- Western New Guinea, Indonesia

Baya Weaver- Namibia

Just because animals and insects build homes out of necessity rather than the advancement of architectural design doesn’t mean that their constructions aren’t sturdy enough to withstand the elements, and they're aesthetically beautiful as well as fully functional.

Their construction crews don’t follow plans or blueprints to get the job done, and yet the structures that they build are so organically perfect that we humans find ourselves in awe of their building skills, and sometimes adopt their methods and materials.

These spectacular earthen homes are featured in wildlife photographer Ingo Anrdt's new book Animal Architecture, which is a visual celebration of the structures built by animals and insects from around the world.

-Via 22 Words

Important Fact: Abraham Lincoln Did Not Have a Beard. He Had Whiskers.

The story goes that in October of 1860, an 11-year old girl wrote to Abraham Lincoln, then the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Young Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York urged the clean-shaven Mr. Lincoln to "let your whiskers grow." Lincoln did so.

But he never wore a beard.

That's right. And your eyes aren't lying to you. That really is President Lincoln pictured above. But according to Sean Trainor, a doctoral student in history and women's studies at Penn State, Americans during Lincoln's time distinguished between the terms "whiskers" and "beards." Men who trimmed their facial hair had whiskers. Men who let their facial hair grow wild wore beards:

The words ‘beard’ and ‘whiskers’ connoted distinctive styles in mid-nineteenth century America—and contemporaries used the words differently than we do. The word ‘whiskers’ typically referred not only to bushy cheek growths—to massive sideburns and muttonchops, as it does in the present—but to what we would call a ‘wreath beard’ as well: to facial hair configurations that met beneath the jaw. Edgar Allan Poe, for example, described one fellow writer as having “[t]hick whiskers meeting under the chin,” and another whose “hair and whiskers are dark, the latter meeting voluminously beneath the chin.” One might even use the word whisker to refer to what we would call a moustache. Writer Edward L. Carey, for instance, referred to a character with a “whisker on [his] upper lip” in a story entitled “The Young Artist.”

‘Beards,’ on the other hand, were more unruly affairs. In an article in the American Phrenological Journal entitled “Wearing the Beard,” for instance, the anonymous F.W.E. instructed beard-wearers that, contrary to the practice of bewhiskered men, “Thou shalt not cut it off at all, but let it grow. Let it grow, all of it, as long as it will.” What often distinguished beards from whiskers, then, was neither facial real-estate nor the length of one’s hair—one might wear a short, untamed beard-in-the-making or a long, carefully-sculpted set of whiskers—but rather one’s relationship to the work of men’s grooming. Hairy men who continued to visit the barber, trim their mustaches, or wax their locks wore whiskers; men who let their facial hair grow unrestrained sported beards.

Brig. Gen. John C. Robinson (USA), however, sports a beard. And what a beard! 


There’s Soap in Your Mayonnaise!

The word “chemical” is often treated as a bad thing, as many commercial interests want you to reject “chemicals” and “go natural.” As if the natural world wasn’t made of chemicals. The two terms are not opposites.

As a scientist with a degree in chemistry, the surge in chemophobia over the last five years has been both baffling and frustrating.

While there are plenty of toxic substances that we should be well frightened of, there are also many safeguards against their use – by and large, the chemicals you encounter in your day-to-day life are benign, even the ones with the scary unpronounceable names and the ones made from substances that can literally chew your face off (sodium chloride, I’m looking at you). But it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of common-sense-based marketing. Scientific literature is not exactly reader-friendly, and scientists have a long history of alienating themselves from Normal People.

Michelle Wong gives us a basic lesson in surfactants, the chemicals that cause hydrophiles, or water-soluble chemicals, to bind easier with lipophiles, or oily chemicals. Surfactants are pretty much soap, which allows us to rinse oils off our skin, hair, dishes, and clothing with water. But they have many other uses that are necessary to everyday life -like breathing. Read about them at The Toast. -via Metafilter

How to Survive a Lightning Strike

Do you know what to do when you’re caught outside in a sudden electrical storm? Knowledge can save your life -but only if you have it ahead of time. This guide to surviving a lightning strike, beginning with this graphic by Ted Slampyak, is one of those things you should read, understand, and file away somewhere in your mind so you can retrieve it if and when the occasion arises. There are more tips about dealing with lightning at The Art of Manliness.  -via Laughing Squid

(Image credit: Ted Slampyak)

The Most and Least Expensive States to Live In

When my last radio job ended, I contemplated moving to a metropolitan area to restart my career. After crunching the numbers, it turns out I would be financially better off living in Kentucky with no job at all than trying to start over in a big city. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released statistics on personal income and living costs among cities and states, and the results are in this “price parity” chart.

The results show the District of Columbia, in 2012, had the highest “regional price parity” of any state. Granted, D.C.’s really a city, not a state, and set against their more natural comparisons, it ranks fifth, behind the Urban Honolulu area, New York-Newark-Jersey City, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward. Beaches, hedge funds and technology are the key to prices, evidently.

The cheapest metro areas, by this methodology, were Danville, Ill.; Jefferson City, Mo.; Jackson, Tenn.; Jonesboro, Ark.; and Rome, Ga.

Put another way,it costs 54% more to live in Honolulu than in Danville.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch. -via Digg

India's First Motion-Capture 3D Film Is A Colorful Trainwreck

(Video Link)

CGI animation is looking really good these days, and digital animators have a helping hand in the creative process thanks to motion capture technology, which allows actors to play the roles of CGI characters, making their movement far more realistic. However, mo-cap is still a relatively new tool, and some budding animators don’t have enough experience with mo-cap to utilize this powerful tool to the fullest.

Indian animators, for example, are just starting to create 3D animated features using mo-cap, and boy does their inexperience show!

Their first mo-capped film is called Kochadaiiyaan, and as much as I'd like to say India has a promising future in 3D animation this film looks like a colorful trainwreck. But don't take my word for it, watch the trailer and judge for yourself.

-Via Cartoon Brew

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